Freeman Patterson sums up his approach to image creation with the quote “If something speaks to you, give it the time of day.” He asks photographers to be aware of what they like most in life. What is so important to you that dominates your thoughts, conversations, dreams, and fantasies? Be aware of symbols in your life that represent dominate thoughts in your mind. Focus on what “totally turns you on.”
Our images are auto biographical, explains Freeman. To grow as photographers, we need to ask ourselves why do we choose a certain subject matter and approach? Awareness gives us power to create photographs at a higher level. As a habit in our workflow process, Freeman suggests, as an example, that we make 36 powerful images in one session and be fully present in our place of image making. Be thoughtful of your composition and its symbolic nature. If it feels like you are home, your composition creation process will evolve from “desperation to liberation”.
Freeman Patterson’s choice of image creation has changed according to his point in life. At one time, he searched for circles which represented wholeness, centeredness, and the need for obtaining a goal. His project, “Integration” represents unity of all parts in a subject. The created images stir interest of the viewer despite the absence of a focal point. The viewer’s eyes are caused to search and move to all parts of the frame. In a later project, he sought out fragile dying plants forming interesting patterns projecting the metaphor of death. This collection symbolized the essence of his dying mother with whom he shared a close bond. Older now, Freeman photographs light with an awareness of other artists, in the later stages of life, on the same journey, traveling into the light.
Using the visual awareness techniques of “relaxed attentiveness”, “letting go, and “thinking sideways”; Freeman Patterson has produced a collection of images to be inherited by humanity representing the good things in life. Your mind clears with relaxed attentiveness resulting in awareness that allows your mind to think with different points of view. Simple observations transcend into an imaginary journey captured with a specific technical tool. An understanding of the rules of photography allows you to break them to follow new ideas in an open workflow process.
Be aware of your emotional reaction while you photograph. Collect the moments that make you feel high. Keep a record of images you do not like. Turn happy accidents into choices. Open yourself to new places and constraints which may provide new opportunities or a new journey in a familiar place.
What can you do different? Tilt your camera. Pay attention to the light falling on your subject. Search for a particular tonal contrast that stimulates an emotional response. Chose a color contrast that adds meaning to the composition.
In summary, the following steps, inspired by Freeman Patterson, might be a good pathway for you to start your new journey. Create what you love and believe in what you do.
In your journal, record subjects (themes) that dominate your mind. For example, the serenity that nature gives us, the miracle of a flower to elicit an emotional response in humans, the joy that comes from being outdoors with family, the power of pet love, the feeling of holding hands and walking in a garden, the magic of light to simulate transcendence, and the reflections of love in life stories, projecting off the surface of water.
From your list, choose the subject you love the most. Brainstorm a list of visual metaphors, in the environment, that could describe your subject. Where could you wander to seek out your subject?
- Make a list of compositions you could create to describe your subject.
- Search for ideas on the internet.
- With your specific subject in site, photograph 36 photos of it with relaxed attentiveness and sideways thinking. Repeat this often at different times of the day. All weather conditions are good.
- Record your emotional response to your photo creating session in your journal. Explain which images “totally turn you on”. What is your emotional connection to them?
- Explain why you created images that don’t excite you (besides the ones created in training of a new tool).
- Repeat this process until you have exhausted all possibilities for sending a message to your viewers.
“Beauty is always present. Seeing it is one of our greatest challenges.” Freeman Patterson